A lot of people don't understand the deep connection we have to our state, especially given that we haven't lived there for 8 years. I think it must be one of those things you can only understand if you grew up in Nebraska... but I also think the sculpture in Omaha helps shed light on, for lack of a better word, our obsession with our homeland.
You see, Nebraska is more than just home to us. It's part of who we are. To an outsider, it may look like a barren wasteland, but when you grow up there, you become immersed the most basic of all things this world has to offer: the land.
In Nebraska, land is life. It is an exploration into a deep, vibrant history and culture that is embraced by nearly everyone and everything. It shapes elementary school curriculum, inspires art, drives commerce, and, perhaps most importantly, it is our connection to the past. The Oregon Trail, which runs through the state, and is depicted in Omaha's sculpture exhibit, is a perfect example of this.
For the majority of Americans, the Oregon Trail is long lost pioneer history but for Nebraskans, it is a living, breathing thing that inexplicably ties us to our past, present and future. After all, it's this trail that first brought many of our ancestors to Nebraska, and it is this trail that laid the groundwork for so many staples we know today, including the nation's railroads, our interstate system and yes, even that computer game from the early 90s. When you're a Nebraska kid, though, you don't need a game or a computer to teach you about this incredible era in American history. All you have to do is look down. Ruts from thousands of wagon wheels can still be found throughout the state, a testament to the courage and fortitude of half a million of pioneers who forged westward to create a life for themselves and for future generations.